The secret truth about celebrity sex tapes and privacy

celebrities 1It’s not news that celebrities struggle to protect their privacy, both online and off. They’ve filed countless lawsuits against paparazzi, overzealous fans, and even stalkers. But many will forsake privacy for fame by intentionally “leaking” a sex tape to advance their celebrity status.

This tactic creates a bizarre conflict: many celebrities are behind the release of their sex tapes, profiting off royalties and enjoying the public recognition they get, while they publicly deny any involvement. The big secret about celebrity sex tapes? Almost all of them were sold with the star’s knowledge and consent.

There’s a legal reason why: celebrities have to approve the sale of their sex tapes, or else they can’t be sold legally. Porn companies like Vivid Entertainment, which released the Kim Kardashian sex tape, can’t distribute and profit off a video without the star’s consent.

It’s all because people in the US have a constitutionally-recognized right to privacy. Having private sex tapes shown and sold to the public without consent violates that right to privacy. And the state of California, where most celebrities live, has a protective right of publicity that prevents third-parties from profiting off a famous person’s image. If the celebrity in the video contests having it shown in public, whoever’s showing it will have to take it down or face legal consequences.

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That’s not to say that sex tapes aren’t leaked to the public without the star’s consent; that’s actually quite common. But to sell and distribute a sex tape requires the star’s authorization. That means that any time you see a celebrity sex tape on the shelves at a porn store, that celebrity gave it the okay.

Two of the most famous sex tapes–Paris Hilton’s and Kim Kardashian’s–were more about strategy than shame.

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton’s sex tape was “unintentionally” leaked online shortly before the debut of her reality show “The Simple Life.” Coincidence?

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Hilton was dating Rick Salomon at the time, who released the tape. Paris tried to do damage control:  not only did she claim to be “unaware of what she was doing,” but she also said that she did not approve of the tape’s release. Salomon sued her for defamation, and eventually Paris agreed to the release of the tape in return for royalties.

Kim Kardashian

Before 2006 and the release of her sex tape with Ray J, Kim Kardashian was only known as Robert Kardashian’s daughter. After, she was a celebrity overnight.

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At the time she made an official statement that she was betrayed and shocked about the scandal. She later agreed to drop the lawsuit she had filed against Vivid Entertainment in exchange for 5 million dollars. However, sources say that she and Ray J planned the release of the tape, and that Kim even discussed the strategy with her family beforehand.

In the years since, Kim started a successful show on E!, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, which as of December 2012 has aired 7 seasons. Still now, seven years later, Kim Kardashian says she’s haunted by the sex tape and feels ashamed of putting herself and her family though such humiliation.

Many celebrities legitimately value their privacy and mourn the loss of it when they become household names. But some of them complain that their privacy has been violated at the same time they’re picking up royalty checks for sex tapes they distributed. The next time there’s a celebrity sex tape scandal, keep in mind that they may be behind it.




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